Thursday, April 03, 2008

More on Google bombing

Alonzo Fyfe weighs in with his own opinion on the Google bombing controversy and the point appears to sail completely over his head.
I believe that it is easy to show that there is at least a sense of a prima facie wrong in creating these Google bombs, and that those who are creating them are aware, but have decided to suppress, this wrongness. We can see this by imagining that the Discovery Institute (for example) had created a site called "Pharyngula Exposed". After which, a group of creationists spread a meme to create "Google bombs" to elevate this site any time that people searched for "Pharyngula" or "PZ Myers" or similar terms.

I have no doubt that many of the supporters of PZ Myers, including those who have created 'Google bombs' for ‘Expelled Exposed’ would protest these underhanded, desperate, and ultimately dishonest tactics of the religious fundamentalists for what would be seen as behavior so obviously unethical that only a fundamentalist would be blind to it. They would present this as a case of unfairly exploiting a situation to create an advantage for themselves, and taken as yet another sign of their general lack of ethics in the pursuit of their goals.

Since he references my article, I assume he is characterizing my position and positions similar to mine. In this sense, Fyfe is completely, 100% incorrect. So incorrect that I suspect he did not even actually read my article. I defend the tactic as inherently legitimate, without regard to the ends to which it is employed.
[P]eople (at least those with common sense) use Google to explore the relationships between search terms and keywords. And establishing this relationship is the intended and actual effect of a Google bomb. We wish to establish the relationship between the term "Expelled" (and related terms) and the website Expelled Exposed. Not only is Google democratic in general — it almost always takes such relationships at face value — but the association is logically justified.

[The Google bomb is] an attempt to use Google as designed and for its explicit purpose to promote a website with criticism... [emphasis added]

I wouldn't be at all critical of such an effort. I might be amused; I would most probably be completely indifferent. The truth has nothing to fear from criticism, or from criticism becoming public. Talk.Orgins, for example, links to most cretinist websites. If some website were to use "Pharyngula" (or "The Barefoot Bum") to promote directed criticism, good for them.

The only sense in which a Google bomb is dishonest is to promote a site that has no logical connection whatsoever to the link text. If I were to promote my blog by encouraging people to link here with the text "Paris Hilton", now that would be dishonest. But not because it would cause any injury to Ms. Hilton herself, but rather because it would lead those searching for information about her to a site that was irrelevant (I hope!) to their inquiry.


  1. As I see it, the success of a "Google-bombing" is its own evidence of legitimacy. I would love to see some theocratic wackaloon douchemonkeys try to Google-bomb Pharyngula, because they would almost certainly fail.

  2. the success of a "Google-bombing" is its own evidence of legitimacy.

    And the failure of a Google bomb renders its "illegitimacy" irrelevant.


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